The Gauteng provincial government has decried the continued destruction of its infrastructure following a spike in vandalism and theft of its traffic lights.
According to the provincial Department of Transport, criminals have caused and cost the province at least R3O million damage to its traffic lights across provincial routes.
The department said it was deeply concerned about the growing incidents of theft and destruction to its traffic infrastructure as it struggled to keep up with maintenance of its equipment.
“The department is faced with an enormous battle of maintaining and protecting the province’s road traffic signals from the rampant theft and vandalism. This battle has jumped to over R30 million in the past year alone, with more than 400 signalised traffic intersections having been vandalised,” said spokesperson for the department Lesiba Mpya.
Mpya said in certain areas, the department has taken the interim measure of converting signalised intersections into four-way stops to enhance safety while actively seeking alternative and sustainable methods for maintaining traffic signals.
“The criminal activities surrounding these incidents are inflicting economic losses on the province, with replacement and repair costs reaching millions. Rebuilding an intersection, on average, can range between R900 000 and R1 500 000. Notably, high-profile intersections such as Hendrik Potgieter and Christiaan De Wet are repeatedly vandalised shortly after repairs, incurring costs exceeding R500 000 per repair,” he said.
Mpya said this brazen acts of theft and vandalism are not only a problem to the fiscus but cause untold damage to public safety as well as road accidents and loss of life.
“These acts of vandalism and theft do not only disrupt the functioning of essential traffic signal services but also pose a threat to public safety.
“These incidents contribute to increased downtime for traffic signals, resulting in an unfavourable user experience, road crashes and substantial costs for the department in rebuilding and replacing stolen equipment,” he added.
Mpya said that as part of its strategy to combat theft and vandalism, the department was actively engaging in establishing partnership in a bid to resolve and find solution to these challenges. The department has urged citizens to help report theft and destruction of infrastructure whenever it happens in their neighbourhoods.
“The department acknowledges the impact of these incidents and urges the public to exercise caution and understanding as collaborative efforts with law enforcement agencies are under way to address these issues. Road users should adhere to treating non-functional traffic signals as four-way stops.
“Additionally, the department appeals to members of the public to assist the government by promptly reporting acts of vandalism,” Mpya said.